Our Perspective

      • Creating a brighter future: The pivotal role of access to modern energy | Vincent Wierda

        27 Nov 2013

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        Each year, the poor spend an estimated US$37 billion on poor-quality energy solutions to meet their lighting and cooking needs. Through programmes such as CleanStart, which UNDP helped develop, low-income consumers are able to access more affordable, quality clean energy products and services, like these improved cook stoves on sale outside Kampala, Uganda.

        Reaching the 1.3 billion people without access to electricity and the 2.6 billion consumers without clean cooking solutions is a major human development challenge, yet it is also an immense investment and business opportunity. How can we take this market to the next level? How can more partnerships be brokered and supported to expand the market? What role can international organizations play in catalysing action and pushing the energy access agenda forward? Our combined experiences – in particular from those who are in the front lines of offering viable energy solutions to low-income people – are needed to build a growing movement, one that is offering a greater range of quality, affordable energy products and services to those at the base of the pyramid. CleanStart, a global initiative co-founded by UNCDF and UNDP, aims to do exactly that by supporting poor households and micro-entrepreneurs to jump-start their access to clean energy through microfinance. In Nepal, where some 87.1 percent of the population still relies on traditional biomass fuels for cooking and heating, we are investing US $1.3 million over four years (2012-2015) to develop replicable business models for scaling up microfinance for cleaner and more efficient forms of energy for  Read More

      • Tackling violence against women and girls: an urgent priority | Helen Clark

        25 Nov 2013

        This day reminds us that violence against women continues to be destructive and pervasive, and kills as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer. From Chile, where partner violence is estimated to drain as much as 2% of the country's GDP, to the United States, where the cost of domestic violence is estimated to exceed $12.6 billion per year, violence against women imposes highs cost on both its victims and society. Women who are able to live in a safe and secure environment can participate effectively in the economy and society. This helps overcome poverty, reduces inequalities, and is beneficial for children’s nutrition, health, and school attendance. Improving women's access to the justice system and to legal aid is vital. In countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we are helping to strengthen the justice sector so that the many cases of rape and violence committed by combatants can be addressed. Impunity for perpetrators must end. In addressing sexual and gender-based violence, it is important to know more about the entrenched attitudes and values which perpetrate it. A recent joint report surveyed 10,000 men in Asia and the Pacific. It found that 80% of  Read More

      • Scaling-up matters for South-South Cooperation | Grace Wang

        06 Nov 2013

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        A WOMAN EMPLOYED UNDER THE MAHATMA GANDHI NATIONAL RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE SCHEME IN INDIA ACCESSES INFORMATION RELATING TO HER EMPLOYMENT AT AN INFORMATION KIOSK. (PHOTO: UNDP INDIA)

        The global development cooperation landscape is changing rapidly. Emerging economies and other developing countries have become key actors in the new development architecture. They offer practical solutions, share rich knowledge and take leadership and collective actions. For example, the Brazilian bolsa familia programme, a cash transfer model, has helped improve childhood nutrition and education in Brazil, and the system has been successfully transplanted to Africa. India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme entitles each rural Indian household by law to 100 days of unskilled work per year on public works programmes. China’s emphasis on infrastructure development in other developing countries has resulted in improvements in electricity supply, an increase in railway connections and reduced prices for telecommunications services. In our new Strategic Plan (2014-17), we are committing to support South-South and Triangular cooperation, complementing the traditional North-South model, across the board, to be a critical part of the post 2015 development agenda.This vision cannot rest on any routine, isolated or short-term approaches. Scaling-up strategy will be the key to ensure our support delivers lasting impact. In this regard, we see ourselves as: • knowledge brokers, to help identify, share and adapt scalable Southern solutions that are tested, cost-effective, sustainable; • capacity builders, to support developing countries to  Read More

      • Social and political transformation can only be achieved with young people’s participation | Heraldo Muñoz

        17 Oct 2013

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        A group of young UN volunteers in Peru. (Photo: Win Bouden/UNDP Peru)

        Latin America and the Caribbean has around 156 million people between the ages of 15 to 29, which means that 26 percent of its population is young. However, only 1.63 percent of deputies and senators in 25 parliaments in the region are 30 years old or younger, according to a recent UN Development Programme (UNDP) assessment. More worrying still is the fact that women still lag behind: among the few young parliamentarians just 32 percent are women. Having so many young people is an opportunity for any region. But in the case of Latin America, this demographic advantage coexists with unequal opportunities for its youth, which is reflected in low voter turnout among young people and a political representation crisis that feeds the recent social mobilizations. This confirms the need to boost efforts to meet young Latin Americans' demands and needs, and to recognize their capabilities and roles in promoting democratic change. In this context, more than 22 young parliamentarians from 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean signed a pact to expand political participation of the youth of the region during a recent meeting in Brasilia, organized by UNDP, Brazil’s National Youth Secretary and the Ibero-American Youth Organization, with  Read More

      • Protecting people with disabilities in times of disaster | Jo Scheuer

        12 Oct 2013

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        Approximately 10 percent of the world's population lives with a disability. Often ignored, forgotten or stigmatized, people with disabilities not only struggle for daily recognition, but face life-threatening challenges in times of disaster. Those whose mobility is impaired cannot access evacuation routes; those with visual or hearing impairment don’t receive early warnings; and those dependant on health and other community infrastructure suffer disproportionately from disaster. During the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, the death rate amongst people with disabilities was twice that of the general population, and when Hurricane Katrina hit the US in 2006, the immobile poor were disproportionately left behind in New Orleans. Fourteen percent of those who remained were living with a disability that made them physically unable to evacuate, while 23 percent were caring for a disabled person. October 13 is the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. The theme this year is ‘disability and disasters,’ a welcome move to draw awareness to the difficulties those with disabilities face in times of disaster. 157 countries have now signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities pledging, among other things, to protect persons with disabilities during conflict, humanitarian emergencies and disasters. In planning and preparing for disasters, however,  Read More

      • The time is right to place governance and anti-corruption at center stage | Rebeca Grynspan

        30 Sep 2013

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        STUDENTS IN EASTERN SUDAN PARTICIPATE IN ARTISTIC COMPETITION ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY, 2012.(PHOTO: UNDP IN SUDAN)

        Thirteen years ago, when the MDGs were formulated, governance-related goals or targets were not included, mainly for political reasons, but what we learned from that experience is that deficits in governance — such as corruption, elite capture of key resources, and low capacity of government institutions — hinder inclusive growth by squandering resources badly needed for development. I was pleasantly surprised that more than 1 million people, who voted through the MYWorld global survey, expressed their opinion that “an honest and responsive governance” should be one of the top priorities in the post-2015 development framework. It is reassuring that both the High-Level Panel Report and the Secretary-General’s report to the General Assembly  corroborated many of the views expressed by citizens on holding their governments transparent, accountable and responsive. According to data from the World Bank, each year US $1 trillion is paid in bribes and it is estimated that corruption can cost a country up to 17 percent of its GDP. Imagine the impact of reversing this! A recent UNDP study found that 76 percent of women surveyed think corruption has prevented them from accessing public goods and services. To counter this, we are promoting and supporting specific anti-corruption measures integrated into basic service delivery systems. Momentum is shifting  Read More

      • On the jobs crisis, people want to see action now | Selim Jahan

        23 Sep 2013

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        Beneficiaries of Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, the largest cash transfer programme in the world. (Photo: Bruno Spada/Brazil Ministry of Social Development)

        Sustainable and inclusive development will not be possible unless economic growth is combined with the creation of decent jobs. The International Labour Organization has warned that 470 million new jobs are needed for new entrants into the labour market between 2016 and 2030, in addition to jobs for 202 million currently unemployed people. Tackling the global jobs crisis is not an easy task; it will require bold national policies, private-sector dynamism and an enabling global framework. The discussions on the new post-2015 development agenda represent a unique opportunity to put job creation in the center of the new framework. “Growth and employment” was one of 11 themes at the heart of consultations we organized with nearly 1 million people, asking them what should replace the Millennium Development Goals after they reach their 2015 deadline. This global outreach helped us to better understand the concerns people have regarding employment; it also helped us combine and present their main recommendations to UN Member States and to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, which are taking the lead in the post-2015 planning processes. And what are these recommendations from people all over the globe? Six key messages from the new report on  Read More

      • Employment and social protection for inclusive growth | Selim Jahan

        29 Aug 2013

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        A FARMER AND HIS FAMILY IN INDIA, BENEFICIARIES OF THE NATIONAL RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE PROGRAMME, WHICH HAS SERVED AS AN EFFECTIVE SOCIAL PROTECTION PROGRAMME. (PHOTO: SAMRAT MANDAL/UNDP INDIA)

        We live in times that seem to be defined by shocks and crises, and these have the potential to slow down, or even reverse, impressive achievements in human development over the years. There is, in fact, evidence that certain human development indicators have suffered setbacks in the context of a crisis. For example, as a result of the Asian crisis of 1997, the poverty rate in the Republic of Korea went from 2.6 percent in 1997 to 7.3 per cent in 1998. Similarly, the poverty rate in Indonesia almost doubled in the same period.   Social protection can be an effective tool for helping people, households and economies to cope with vulnerabilities arising from economic shocks. Countries that had social protection programmes in place were better able to weather the recent economic downturn, and some economies were even able to recover faster. Brazil, for example, was one of the last economies to be hit by the recent crisis and one of the first to begin recovering from it. An important reason was an increase in cash transfers to families, which helped offset the negative effects of the crisis.   But social protection can only go so far unless it is linked  Read More

      • I dare you to finish this paragraph about peace | Ozonnia Ojielo

        29 Jul 2013

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        In Kenya, UNDP pioneered crowdsourcing for conflict prevention during the country’s constitutional referendum in 2010. A toll-free SMS service allowed people to report threats, which civil society groups and police responded to. The referendum passed without violence. (Photo: UNDP Kenya)

        “The core mandate of UNDP is to strengthen national capacities for development. From this basis, the concept of ‘infrastructures for peace’ has served to guide UNDP’s support to assessing and addressing country structural vulnerability. ‘Infrastructures for peace’ can be defined as ‘the network of interdependent structures, mechanisms, resources, values, and skills which, through dialogue and consultation, contribute to conflict prevention and peacebuilding in a society.’ Still here? Congratulations. You are probably in the minority. My point in presenting this eye-watering statement unedited is perhaps facetious, but important: All too often in development, jargon is used to obscure activities that are not only vitally important – but actually quite simple as well. The “infrastructures for peace” concept is a case in point. What could be more important in a conflict-ridden country than giving governments, police, quarrelling groups and factions the skills they need to engage peacefully? This means giving communities the resources and support they need to mediate and resolve conflicts, analyze where conflict may re-ignite, and to be warned in time so that rapid response is possible. For example: - In Lesotho in 2012, the political environment was becoming heated and violence was a possibility. UNDP gave mediator training to four  Read More

      • Can states empower poor people? Your thoughts please | Duncan Green

        17 Jul 2013

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        Mobile money services have reached 450,000 people in five Pacific countries, a shift from an insecure, costly cash system. Inexpensive payment and savings services increase financial access for the poor.

        I’m currently writing a paper on how governments can promote the empowerment of poor people. Nice and specific then. It’s ambitious/brave/bonkers depending on your point of view, and I would love some help from readers. First things first. This is about governments and state action. So not aid agencies, multilaterals or (blessed relief) NGOs, except as bit players. And not state-as-problem: here I’m looking at where state action has achieved positive impacts. The idea is to collect examples of success and failure in state action, as well as build some kind of overall narrative about what works, when and why. Here’s where I’m currently at: Empowerment happens when individuals and organised groups are able to imagine their world differently and to realise that vision by changing the relations of power that have been keeping them in poverty. The current literature suggests a neat fit with a ‘three powers’ model first proposed by our own Jo Rowlands (I think). According to this reading, power for excluded groups and individuals can be disaggregated into three basic forms: power within (a sense of rights, dignity and voice, along with basic capabilities). This individual level of empowerment is an essential precondition for collective action. For  Read More